In recent years, many Robeson County families have done away with trick-or-treating altogether. The age-old tradition of walking door-to-door isn’t safe in the county, they say. Families are now finding alternative ways to celebrate the once ghoulish holiday — including going to church.
Although Halloween is often shunned by religious sects, many churches are adapting to the Halloween tradition. The Newgate Community Church at 3990 Fayetteville Road is one of them.
The church is holding its fifth annual Trunk-or-Treat celebration on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. Children are invited to attend the event in full costume as they walk from car to car in the parking lot receiving goodies from open trunks. Pastor Brian Schmidt said it is a good way to share with the community.
“I think it’s a fun and safe way for children to enjoy Halloween,” Schmidt said. “Although I think people may also enjoy it because there is a lot of candy, in a small place.”
Similarly, Barnesville Baptist Church in Orrum is holding a “Holy-ween” festival to celebrate Halloween. The festival includes games, prizes, a cake walk and a greased pig chase. The event is being held between 6 and 8 p.m. on Friday.
Lt. Howard Reaves of the Lumberton Police Department said he has noticed a lot of families turning to churches to celebrate the holiday.
“They bring in huge crowds on Halloween,” Reaves said. “Churches do a lot of things.”
Reaves said he believes that people were celebrating Halloween with their churches, instead of on the streets, because of safety concerns.
In reality, Reaves said, there is usually no more crime on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
“We might get a few calls regarding pranks. Small things, like egging cars,” he said. “Every once in a while, we might get a call about a teen snatching a candy bag from a child. But it’s all little stuff. I think people are just more aware of crime on Halloween.”
Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill said that a lot of people are also attending private Halloween parties, carnivals and festivals to celebrate. But he added that he didn’t think Halloween was extra spooky for law enforcement.
“Overall, it goes very well,” he said. “Everybody is well-behaved. They know the kids are out having fun.”
As a precaution, Reaves said the Police Department will be adding extra patrols to survey neighborhoods for trouble and to make sure residents are abiding traffic laws.
“We are hoping to have two teams out during trick-or-treating,” Reaves said. “They’ll be all over town. Especially when it gets dark.”
Because of the one-week delay in the return of Daylight Standard Time, which has traditionally been during the week before Halloween, families can expect a little more light during the hours of trick-or-treating. According to the National Weather Service, the sun will begin setting at about 6:23 p.m. Darkness is expected to creep in at about 6:50 p.m.
Residents can also put away their full-moon fears as only about 7 percent of the moon will be visible Halloween night. The skies will be clear and the temperatures seasonal.
Halloween is said to have originated in early-century Europe when Christians celebrated “All Souls Day” on Nov. 2. Christians and villagers would travel from town to town begging for “soul cakes” in exchange for prayers for the homeowner’s deceased relatives.
It was believed that anyone who prayed for the dead gave the deceased’s spirit an easy path into heaven. Some versions say that children often tried to steal the cakes, which were left in front of the home, and later began begging for them.
A Celtic holiday known as “Samhain” that was celebrated in Scotland, Ireland and Wales celebrated the end of the Harvest, and the beginning of winter. The holiday was also known as “All Hollowtide,” “Hallow Eve,” and eventually “Hallowe’en.” It was also during this time that people believed that spirits and mortals existed on Earth together.
The tradition of costuming may be an extension of that belief, as people often dressed as demons and ghosts to divert or frighten sprits from possessing their homes or themselves.
It is believed that the Irish brought the Halloween tradition to the United States in the 1840s. It is celebrated in most Western countries.